Fossil fuels are HALF of our environmental footprint. (See Page 12 here).
Footprint calculators measure us using the resources of about 1.5 Earth’s. Doing this is like living on a giant credit card, and one day soon the bills will come due in all sorts of nasty feedbacks. But we can HALVE our Footprint and bring it down to about 0.8 Earth’s by eliminating fossil fuels. The only technically AND economically possible way to do this is with nuclear power. France did this for their electricity sector in about 20 years. The challenge for the world is to transform not just electricity, but the transport fuels we use as well. That is quite a challenge, but with smart New Urbanism, public transport, and electric cars, I think we can do it.
If we waved a magic wand and these tasks were already achieved, and we lived in a world of clean New Urban cities and much more public transport and some electric cars and clean nuclear power running the show (from a safe distance), then we would be at about 0.7 or 0.8 capacity of Earth!It sounds great, but here’s the bad news. We don’t have a magic wand. This cannot be done any time soon. And even if the governments of the world all decided today to fast-track a nuclear powered New Urban world, it would still take the next 40 years to replace dirty energy and build out our new cities. The population will rise another 23% to 9 billion. Just the population alone will raise our footprint past the ‘One Planet’ goal again.
We have to tackle our farming and consumption and city and fishing and forestry footprints all together. We have to adopt New Urbanism and eco-cities and public transport and plasma-arc recycling programs. We have to create more marine parks offering REAL protection so the oceans can regenerate. We have to protect the last pockets of wilderness and biodiversity from our ever growing urban and farmlands. Indeed, we have to shrink our urban areas to make way for future farmlands, so that we can actually feed the new 2 billion people we’ll be sharing the planet with.
It’s a big task. Will we do it? That depends on the dreamcasters and policy makers and activists all coming together and dreaming the same dreams.